Domenech calls for new French team ethic
Former France coach Raymond Domenech has called for a sea change at the heart of the national game to prevent a repeat of the in-fighting and ill-discipline that dogged the country's Euro 2012 campaign.
Domenech, who was repaced by current coach Laurent Blanc after a similarly problematic World Cup two years ago, said in a newspaper column published on Tuesday that there was no shame in being beaten by the world champions.
"But to lose without showing any hunger for competing is," he wrote in the Ouest France daily.
"In order to cure this it is vital to change the philosophy at the heart of our sports education and to make the team ethic the centrepiece of developing future French professional players. Just like the Spanish do!"
France were knocked out of the tournament after losing their quarter-final match 2-0 to holders Spain on Saturday.
But the defeat was overshadowed by Samir Nasri, who verbally abused an AFP journalist after the lacklustre match, as well as criticisms of the players' performances and expected bonuses.
It was not the first incident involving Nasri, while Blanc himself had a dressing room row with Hatem Ben Arfa and Jeremy Menez and Yann M'Vila squabbled.
Domenech stopped short of comparing the incidents with those in 2010, when Nicolas Anelka was sent home for verbally abusing him, leading to a player mutiny in which they forced him to read out their written statement to the press.
Nevertheless, while he said Blanc should be held to account for his defensive selection and late substitutions in the Spain game, as well as his difficulty in managing over-inflated egos, the main blame should rest with the players.
"A major finals reveals the strength of a group of players, of a generation of players," wrote the 60-year-old, who guided France to the 2006 World Cup final which they lost to Italy.
"This one simply exposed all these stars, amply displaying the huge swathe of weaknesses they possess. The most blatant one was their incapacity to do anything other than navel gaze.
"All it takes is for a few malcontents to provoke a squad into exploding or imploding."
Domenech said Nasri, whom he did not take to South Africa because he thought he would be a disruptive influence, was the catalyst for the malaise but Menez and M'Vila had to take some responsibility.
Menez gestured at captain Hugo Lloris during the Spain game, telling him to shut up, while M'Vila did not shake hands with Blanc or his replacement when he was substituted by Olivier Giroud, the former national coach noted.
"The substitutes are the masons of the group," he said. "Either they strengthen the foundations of the team, or they destroy it.
"Menez is capable of starting a demolition business and I guarantee he would make a fortune. M'Vila could be his foreman based on the evidence of his remarkable reaction to being substituted against Spain."